Agfest crowds to return

AGFEST organisers are celebrating after the State Government finally lifted capacity limits on crowd numbers. From midnight today density restrictions and capacity limits are being removed from all Tasmanian venues and events.

It means the cap of 5000 patrons is gone and the Rural Youth Organisation can once again look to welcome up to 20,000 people per day through the gates of Quercus Park.

Agfest is traditionally held annually in May but has this year has been post-poned until August due to concerns about running an economically viable event with crowd limits in place.

Agfest chairman Caine Evans said the Government’s decision to remove the cap proved the decision to postpone Agfest was the right one. “This is the moment we have been waiting for,” a relieved and happy Mr Evans said.

“The removal of restrictions will mean after two hard years we will finally be able to present an Agfest as close to normal as possible. “We encourage everyone to put Agfest 2022 in their calendars for August 24 to 27 and look forward to welcoming everyone to the paddock!

“We encourage exhibitors who were hesitant to apply for the event due to the ongoing restrictions to reconsider and submit an application online for consideration. Under the Government’s Covid restrictions crowd numbers at Agfest would have been limited to just 5000 people per day as was the case last year.

It meant a maximum of 20,000 people attended over the agricultural event’s four days in 2021. This number included thousands of exhibitors. It was a far cry from the record numbers of 60,000 just a few years earlier.

The Government’s decision is also expected to breathe life back into Tasmania’s agricultural shows, many of which had been cancelled in the wake of Covid limitations.

President of Tas Ag Shows and CEO of the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania Scott Gadd said the show sector had suffered under the limits. “Shows are an important economic contributor to local economies and are part of the local social fabric,” Mr Gadd said.

“We campaigned strongly last year, and into this year, to have these limits reviewed, and we’re pleased with the Government’s decision today.

“For the Royal Hobart Show, today’s decision means that planning can proceed for a 2022 show. “Until now, we had been unable to make a final decision given the limit of 5,000 patrons at the Show at any one time.” The 2021 Royal Hobart Show ran at a loss of $200,000 due to public health restrictions.

Mr Gadd said the removal of restrictions provides certainty for organisers of Tasmania’s 23 agricultural shows and means they can now plan ahead. Large scale events will still be required to practice Covid-safe procedures and events with more than 5000 people will need to submit a Covid safety plan for review and approval.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the decision to remove crowd limits and density restrictions which had meant one person per every two square metres, was based on public health advice. “This is another important step in our ongoing transition to living with Covid-19,” Mr Rockliff said.

“We have learnt from other jurisdictions and taken a gradual approach to removing restrictions, taking into consideration case numbers and any resulting pressures on our health system.”